Author's Notes: I had a couple of really good fic ideas and actually wanted to finish those or either post an update to one of my many unfinished fics but unfortunately, there's no denying inspiration with me. I debated for a while with myself as to whether or not I should stick this all together as one long story or split it up into chapters. I decided on the chapter thing since I have this all done and I can update more often to make it seem like I'm writing more. Unfortunately, it's all just an illusion as I really am quite busy with school and have very little time to write. It's only the third week and I'm burned out. IB Math is a killer, I just know I bombed my first test today... thank heavens for Philosophy. There's something I don't suck at. I could rant about that and all right here, but that's what my livejournal is for. Not like you'd care anyway.
Disclaimer: I don't really own the hobbits or anything since I'm not Tolkien. That should be obvious but apparently legalities are unable to think things out.
Chapter One: The New Delivery
Mum had told me we were going on a little trip to visit my aunt and uncle. Why, she would not say. It didn't really matter to me though. I loved visiting Auntie Eglantine and Uncle Paladin in Tuckborough. I didn't care much for their three daughters... but then again, silly girls never want to do anything fun like climbing trees and sneaking food. They're perfectly content to play with their dolls and knitting. Uncle Paladin though, he was fun. He didn't have his own son which Dad said was a very unfortunate thing but I didn't mind. I could be his son too, and he seemed to think the same.
But when we got to Great Smials, things were not the same as they had always been. Auntie Eglantine did not come out to greet us, only Uncle Paladin was there. He did not look well, I thought. Uncle Paladin was usually a bright and jovial hobbit but to me he looked weary and worn out. He talked in hasty whispers to Mum and Dad for a while as I grew impatient from the lack of attention. It was not like Uncle Paladin to simply ignore me like this and when he did acknowledge me it was only to send me off to the play room with his daughters.
"But Uncle Paladin, why can't we--?" I began, not quite ready to let everything fly by over my head.
"I'm sorry, Merry, but Auntie is sick and needs tending to," was the curt reply. That wasn't all there was to the matter, I was sure of it. Meriadoc Brandybuck is no fool and if the grown ups thought they could hide whatever was going on from me then they were sorely mistaken.
The three Took children were scattered around the play room, each tending to their own private business. Pearl was curled up in a corner with a book, Pimpernel was absently toying with a doll and Pervinca was... it took me a moment to find Pervinca, buried beneath a mound of cushions near the window. There was an uncomfortable amount of stillness in the air. The Took children were usually quiet and well behaved but not this quiet.
"Oh, hallo, Merry," greeted Pearl quietly, looking up from her book. I smiled back. Pearl was always a nice hobbit; older and wiser than her sisters.
"Where's auntie?" I asked.
"Come sit with me," Pearl said, ignoring my question. Stealing a cushion from an oddly irked Pervinca, I sat next to Pearl. I didn't understand the book she was reading. There were lots of tiny words and very few pictures. "So, how have you been?"
"Small talk goes nowhere, Pearl," I replied curtly, dismissing her attempts to steer me away from what I wanted to know. "I'm a Brandybuck and am not so easily distracted. Is auntie really sick?"
Pearl sighed. "Not really, Merry. You remember Mama was having a baby?"
I nodded. I remembered although I hadn't wanted to. Uncle Paladin and Auntie Eglantine had enough children, why would they want more? But sure enough anyway, Mum had received the letter and told Dad and I that I was to have a new cousin soon. I wasn't too excited, why should I be? Another girl was another girl. And what if it was a boy? He'd replace me as the darling of the Took and Brandybuck families. Uncle Paladin would no longer have time for me. And I didn't want that.
"Dad said the baby is early," Pearl went on. "It means Mama is sick and the two of them could be in trouble..." she added at the confused look on my face.
I suppose it was a wicked thing to think but I didn't mind if my baby cousin never came. It would be better. But I didn't want Auntie to be in trouble or to be sick. I frowned, realizing my predicament.
The day in the Smials was long and quiet. I didn't see Mum or Dad save only a few moments when one or the other would come in to check on us. I didn't see Uncle Paladin at all. The afternoon grew into evening and still the air hung heavy around me. Pervinca had curled up and fallen asleep amongst her palace of pillows. Pimpernel was still entranced by her doll and Pearl had gone back to her book. I lay on my back, counting the beams of wood in the ceiling. There was nothing else to do after all.
Eventually, Mum came into the room, a mixture of joy and relief on her face. All of us, save of course Pervinca, looked up at her expectantly.
"Pearl, Pimpernel, bring your sister and come with me," she said. "Your mother's asking for you." Pearl gathered up the slumbering Pervinca and made to follow my mother. I stood up too, expecting maybe some sort of instructions for myself. "Merry, why don't you go out and play in the garden? It's a lovely evening."
"Is Auntie all right?" I asked quietly.
To my surprise, Mum smiled. "Yes, she is, Merry." She gently ushered me towards the door. "Now go outside and play."
"Did she come?" I asked.
"Did who come?"
"My new cousin."
"Yes, he did. But we're still tending to the lad. Now go be good and play."
Wait a minute... he?! As in... my new cousin was a boy?! No!!! Not a boy; I didn't want to be replaced! As I sat under a tree in the garden, all by my lonesome self I began to realize that it was happening already. Everyone was clustered around the new brat and here I was, shunned outside in the garden. Why wasn't I allowed to see him? I was clean and probably had less germs than Pervinca! But no, poor stupid Merry was to stay outside and out of the way.
I sat there, sulking long after dusk had settled and the world plunged into the tranquility that was night. I debated whether or not I should let myself back inside. It seemed to me like I had been forgotten out here. Deciding I had better places to be even if I didn't know where those places were, I got to my feet and headed towards the garden gate. I hadn't gotten very far before I heard my father's voice ring out, calling for me.
"Surly, you didn't think we had forgotten about you, boy?" joked my father. I smiled meekly; it had all seemed that way.
He ushered me inside and into the kitchen. The three Took girls were seated to a warm hot dinner with my mother. I took an empty seat. The lasses were all chatting excitedly about something. As I began to eat the meal prepared by the Tooks' cook, Pearl directed her attention towards me.
"He's so tiny, Merry!" she exclaimed.
I looked up. "Pardon?"
"Peregrin!" piped up Pimpernel. "He could fit in the palm of Daddy's hand, I'm sure!"
"I wanted a sister," pouted Pervinca. I couldn't help but smile. At least it seemed I had one other hobbit on my side. Then again, I couldn't help but notice the smile tugging at the corners of my cousin's mouth. Surly, Pervinca wasn't really serious in her distaste for her new brother.
"When do I get to see the runt?" I asked.
"Meriadoc!" lectured Mum. "Be nice!" I sighed. Peregrin had barely come into this world and already Mum seemed ready to put him before me, her own son.
"Well? When can I see him?" I repeated.
"We'll see," was the only answer I got.
Sure enough, it wasn't long before Uncle Paladin came looking for me. I was led into a room with Mum after being told to keep my voice down. Auntie Eglantine was in bed. She looked tired like Uncle Paladin had looked when I had first arrived. She was beaming though and despite her obvious exhaustion, I still thought she managed to look pretty. In her arms was a small bundle of blankets.
"Come over here, Merry," Auntie Eglantine whispered. I obeyed, creeping silently towards the bed.
"What's that?" I asked, pointing to the bundled blankets. I stood on my toes, leaning in to have a look. Large, glittering emerald green eyes blinked back at me. Startled, I shrank back from the bundle. "Is that him?"
"Yes," nodded Auntie. "Don't be shy, Merry, it's okay."
I chanced another look at the babe shrouded in blankets. He was rather funny looking in my opinion. His hair was no more than copper fuzz and his abnormally large green eyes stared at me, almost unblinkingly.
"Do you want to hold him for a while?"
I nodded; I needed to get a closer inspection of this new "precious" baby. Gently, Auntie Eglantine laid the bundle in my arms. At the sudden movement, the baby gave a small squealing cry and scrunched his face up in discontent. I nearly laughed; he was as funny looking a hobbit as they come.
"So you're Pipsqueak Peregrin," I said offhandedly. Mum sent me an accusing stare. Peregrin smacked his lips in reply.
"I'm not so sure about Pipsqueak, Merry," said Auntie gently. "But he is small. My little Pippin..."
"Pippin?" I looked back down at my new cousin. He stared back and we held each other's gaze for a few moments. I would have been excited to be holding this potentially new playmate if I hadn't remembered how this young brat would now be the focus of everyone's attention. My replacement. Pippin smiled at me and, seemingly contented for the moment, closed his eyes in slumber.
"He smiled at me, Auntie," I said, holding out the baby for her to take back.
"You're quite the character, Meriadoc," she smiled. "Babies this young can't smile."
Maybe I had imagined it? I suppose it wasn't that hard to believe but even as I left the room, I knew Pippin had very plainly smiled at me. I smiled to myself. I suppose little hobbits weren't all that bad.
Yes, it seems like everything comes to a nice little conclusion, doesn't it? Well, you're wrong. This isn't the end yet. I don't think Merry's been swayed too much to quite appreciate his new cousin. That's all you'll see for now though, but if you review I may be persuaded to drop my work and post more. ;)